Hear our voice, O Lord, according to your faithful love.
Margaret Preston (1875-1963). Wheelflower 1929, National Gallery of Australia.
Keeping a good Lent, with Rob Lamerton
We are now in the time in the Church year known as Lent, which begins on Ash Wednesday. Lent is the forty day period of fasting and spiritual discipline in preparation for Easter. On Ash Wednesday the Eucharist begins with these words:
Brothers and sisters in Christ: since early days Christians have observed with great devotion the time of our Lord's passion and resurrection. It became the custom of the Church to prepare for this by a season of penitence and fasting. At first this season of Lent was observed by those who were preparing for Baptism at Easter and by those who were to be restored to the Church's fellowship from which they had been separated by sin.
In time, the Church came to recognize that all Christians might take to heart the call to repentance and the assurance of forgiveness proclaimed in the Gospel and so grow in faith and in devotion to our Lord.
I invite you, therefore, to the observance of a holy Lent. As we journey through Lent to Jerusalem and the cross, we are called to travel more and more closely as his disciples. Let us cast off those things that hinder us, that we might experience refreshment of faith and the joy of the resurrection.
So often the issue of fasting is overplayed in Lent at the expense of the other spiritual disciplines mentioned by Jesus. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus also says: "when you give alms" and "when you pray" as well as encouraging the pattern of prayer we know as the Lord's Prayer. Fasting offers an opportunity to exercise self control as well as enabling spiritual awareness but it is not the only discipline of Lent. Please use Lent as a time of rededication and commitment. We can give to mission organizations such as ABM. We can make a commitment to renew a relationship which has been damaged. We can spend an extra ten minutes each day to remember in prayer those around us—and be prepared to be challenged and surprised! Or maybe a pattern of reading at home. There are so many ways! (Rob Lamerton, St Philip's Pewsheet, 13 February 2005)
Walter Rodrigues Jr., jazz guitarist, plays his arrangement of "Everybody ought to know" by Harry Dixon Loes.
May God our Redeemer show us compassion and love. Amen.